At least one in 10 hospital patients with Covid-19 acquired their infection while in hospital, according to a new study.
A report from the Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (Delve) group, which advises Government scientists, found that an estimated one per cent of all Covid-19 infections in England between April 26 and June 7 were acquired in hospital, representing 10 per cent of all hospital cases of Covid-19.
The experts predicted the true figure could be higher, adding that between mid-March and early May an increasing proportion of cases were coming from infections acquired in hospitals.
The team also estimated that at least 10 per cent of all Covid-19 infections in England across the same period were among healthcare workers who deal with patients, and social care workers looking after care home residents.
Some six per cent of all Covid-19 infections were also among care home residents, the team found.
Other studies have suggested much higher rates for hospital-acquired Covid-19.
Separate modelling in May by Public Health England (PHE) suggested that a fifth of coronavirus infections among hospital patients, and almost nine in 10 infections among healthcare workers, could have been acquired in hospital.
The PHE study concluded that placing suspected Covid-19 patients in single rooms or bays has the potential to reduce hospital-acquired infections in patients by up to 80 per cent.
It said regular testing of healthcare workers would also “considerably reduce infection” among them by as much as 64 per cent and would result in only a small proportion of staff absence.
Another study from a major London teaching hospital found that 15 per cent of inpatients with Covid-19 from March 2 to April 12 had a hospital-acquired coronavirus infection, with a death rate of 36 per cent.
The Delve team pinpointed issues that contribute to the spread of Covid-19 between hospital staff and from staff to patients, including inconsistent use of face masks, a lack of social distancing between staff and in communal areas such as canteens, and a failure to rapidly identify new infections.
They also said the asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus was an issue, alongside an earlier shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals and not enough testing of staff.